Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 20 News List

NBA: Bulls trample Celtics at home, take four-game lead

Reuters and AP, CHICAGO

The Chicago Bulls’ Carlos Boozer, right, reacts after scoring a basket on the Boston Celtics’ Jeff Green on Thursday during the fourth quarter of their game in Chicago, Illinois.

Photo: Reuters

The Chicago Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 97-81 on Thursday to open a four-game lead at the top of the Eastern Conference and move to within one victory of clinching home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs.

Chicago (58-20), winners of 17 of their last 19 games, closed out the third quarter with an 11-4 run to pull away from the Celtics (54-24).

“This meant a lot because you’re going against a team you could see in the playoffs,” Bulls guard Derrick Rose told reporters after scoring a game-high 30 points.

“You don’t want those teams to have confidence. We were aggressive. That’s the way it’s going to be. We’re a tough team. We grind wins out,” he said.

The Bulls allowed the Celtics just four field goals in the fourth quarter and, with just four games remaining, Chicago look like -genuine title contenders.

“I just thought they were far more physical, tougher, more prepared, which is on me,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought Thibs [Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau] did a better job.”

“I thought [Carlos] Boozer did a better job, I thought Derrick Rose did a better job. I just thought overall they just competed far better than us tonight,” he said.

MVP candidate Rose added eight assists for the Bulls and Luol Deng scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half.

The Celtics were led by Paul Pierce with 15 points while Kevin Garnett scored 10 and Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen were limited to seven each.

TRAIL BLAZERS 98, JAZZ 87

In Salt Lake City, Gerald Wallace scored 29 points and Nicolas Batum added 21 to lead Portland over sinking Utah.

Wallace scored 20 points in the second half as the Blazers wore down the injury-depleted Jazz, who had only nine healthy players. The loss assured Utah of a second losing season in 28 years.

Wesley Matthews scored 18 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 12 for the Blazers, who moved into sole possession of the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference, a half game ahead of New Orleans.

Devin Harris, who returned after missing five games with a strained hamstring, led the Jazz with 26 points.

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